10 Myths About Domestic Violence Debunked

Domestic violence is under reported and misunderstood..

Domestic violence within a couple, also referred to as intimate partner violence, frequently does not get much attention until it is too late, for example, someone in the public eye is badly abused, or even worse, killed. Domestic violence is grossly under reported and it is often misunderstood. This article busts ten common myths about domestic violence and shares the truth about this devastating phenomenon.

Myth #1: Domestic violence is rare.

Domestic violence is actually experienced by one out of every three women in her lifetime. 

Myth #2: Domestic violence is not serious.

Sadly, intimate partner violence is very serious. In fact, one out of every three female victims of homicide are murdered by their current or former partner. Further, intimate partner violence accounts for fifteen percent of all violent crimes in the United States.

Myth #3: Domestic violence only effects men and women in heterosexual relationships.

Domestic violence effects people in heterosexual and homosexual relationships equally.

Myth #4: It is the victim's fault for not leaving the situation.

This is probably the all too common myth that exists. There are countless valid reasons as to why someone stays in an abusive relationship.

Batterers often threaten their partners if they leave. They may threaten to kill the children if they have any.

 It can actually feel and be more dangerous to leave than to stay in some situations. Further, the progression of domestic violence is insidious. Because of this gradual progression of violence and the emotional, financial and physical manipulation that comes with it, it can often be difficult for one to fathom the severity of the situation when she is within it.

There are many other reasons why someone stays in an abusive relationship. The bottom line is that the victim is never responsible for the abuse.

Myth #5: Only poor people are effected by domestic violence.

Domestic violence occurs across all socioeconomic groups.

Myth #6: Some women enjoy being in abusive relationships.

Women in abusive relationships often live in terror. This myth falls under the umbrella of the all too common problem of blaming the victim. 

Myth #7: Domestic violence is caused by substance abuse.

Sometimes abusers may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they beat their partners, but sometimes they are sober. Domestic violence is not caused by substance abuse. Being drunk or high is no excuse to be violent or abusive to another. Further, many people who have problems with substance abuse do not become violent.

Myth #8: Domestic violence is caused by mental illness

Similar to the myth that substance abuse causes domestic violence, the idea that mental illness causes domestic violence is simply not true.

While mental illness and domestic violence can co-occur, there is no direct correlation between them. The majority of people who are diagnosed with a mental illness are not violent, and the majority of people who abuse their partners are not diagnosed with a mental illness.

Myth #9: Couples therapy is one solution to domestic violence

Couples therapy is actually not recommended for domestic violence. The majority of marital counseling approaches, such as Emotionally Focused Therapy, attempt to strengthen a partnership and bond between two people, which can typically involve encouraging partners to be vulnerable with each other. Vulnerability and the strengthening of a partnership should not be encouraged when there is a drastic power differential and danger. That being said, there are many agencies that offer specialized help for survivors of domestic violence.

Myth #10: It will get better once we get married.

Typically, the abuse only worsens and becomes more frequent and severe after marriage.

To get some advice from one survivor of domestic violence, click here.

If you or someone you know may be in a situation in which there is domestic or intimate partner violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Truman, J. & Morgan, R. (2014). Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003-2012. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

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